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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

CHAPTER 9
EGYPT AND ISRAEL
I
IN dealing with the relations between Egypt and the Hebrews
a preliminary matter which calls for brief mention is the geo-
graphical position of Syria, of which Palestine, which lay to the
south of the Lebanon ranges, formed part. The Mediterranean
sea on the west, and the Arabian desert on the east, made Syria-
Palestine a kind of corridor about four hundred miles long and
less than a hundred broad. With Mesopotamia to the north-
east and Egypt on the south-west, the land formed a highway
between the continents of Asia and Africa. Its possession was,
therefore, of the greatest importance to the leading Powers of
the two continents, both for military purposes and also because
of the trade routes, used also, of course, for the march of armies.
Of these routes there were four.main ones which ran north and
south, that along the maritime plain being the most important;
they were crossed in the southern parts of the land by others
running east and west, but these were of less importance. It
needs no further words to show the unique geographical position
held by Syria-Palestine, and the importance of possessing it.
The earliest references which we have of contacts between
Egypt and Syria-Palestine are not, for obvious reasons, con- '
cerned with the Israelites; nevertheless, inasmuch as racially,
and possibly even more closely, the Israelites were connected
with, at any rate, a portion of the people of Syria-Palestine
during the second and third millenniums B.C., it will not be out
of place if we begin by drawing attention to some of the indica-
tions which we have of the earliest contacts between Egypt and
Syria-Palestine. There are not many, but, such as they are, they
deserve mention.
Belonging to the time of the Fifth Dynasty (c. 2560-2420 B.C.)